Fitness

Best workout apps for women in 2022

Does having a fitness coach 24/7 right in your pocket sound tempting? These workout apps were designed to be just like that.

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In the age of technology, it's pretty easy to find an exercise app that allows you to train wherever you go. The right workout app will act as a virtual personal trainer to help you attain your fitness goals. If you've found yourself repeating the same workouts at the gym or you're bored with your home workouts, a workout app may help spice up your routine.

The way these exercise apps work is pretty simple. You pay a subscription membership and in exchange you get access to a library of fitness content. With a wide variety of workout apps available and many not offering free trials, it can be challenging to know what each app offers or if it's worth the investment. In this article, I'll go over the best workout subscription apps for women, what you can expect from each and any outstanding features. (Although most of the apps listed here are targeted toward women and feature mostly women trainers, anyone can benefit from them -- there's no such thing as a gender-specific exercise.)

Tone and Sculpt

App Store rating: 4.9 out of 5

Google Play rating: 4.7 out of 5

Tone and Sculpt is my go-to workout app. As a fitness enthusiast hitting the gym consistently for the past seven years, I've tried numerous workout programs and apps. Still, I always find myself coming back to Tone and Sculpt. 

This app allows you to customize your fitness plan to the point that it seems like the program was personalized for you. You get to choose the trainer of your liking from women with different specialties like strength training, endurance, barre and yoga. You can also select the number of workout sessions you want to accomplish every week (three or five times per week), the level you are most comfortable with (beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert), equipment (you can also select if you will be working out from home or in a gym) and, lastly, nutrition preference. Depending on the program you select, you can expect the duration to be anywhere from eight weeks (yoga) to 67 weeks (strength training).

Once you've selected the program that best fits your goals and lifestyle, you'll see your dashboard, where you can find your weekly planner showing the workout routines by days of the week. You can change the order of the workouts in your planner and add any workouts or challenges from the workout library. Short videos and descriptions accompany each exercise to help you do it correctly. 

One of my favorite features of this app is the meal planner. You can choose from four different diet types: standard (best for omnivores), vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian. With the meal planner, you can input your own meals to track what you eat in a day, or you can ask the app to do it for you. If you let the app plan your meals, it will give you a shopping list and recipes for your meals. Most of these recipes are simple and easy to follow and they usually take 15 to 20 minutes to prep.

All in all, this app offers the right programs and nutrition plans if you're looking to build muscle. If you would like to try it yourself, check out the 14-day free trial.

Pros:

  • Fully customizable workout routines
  • Variety of levels to choose from
  • Includes nutrition plan

Cons:

  • You have to click through every repetition of each set to get through your workout
Melissa Wood Health

App Store rating: 5 out of 5 

Google Play rating:4.9 out of 5 

When my gym shut down right at the beginning of the pandemic, I made my way to the Melissa Wood Health Method. I'd followed the founder, Melissa Wood-Tepperberg, on Instagram for about two years before that moment and sporadically took Pilates classes she shared on her profile. Once I was left without a gym to attend, I thought that it was a good time to subscribe to her app since I enjoyed her classes and her inspiring content so much. I subscribed to the seven-day free trial and decided to keep my membership because of how good the workouts made me feel.

The MWH Method aims to help you sculpt long, lean lines by practicing controlled, low-impact movements. At the beginning of each practice, you're prompted to set an intention for your workout. The idea behind the method is to work toward a stronger body and build a better relationship with yourself.  

This app has an extensive selection of workouts to choose from, and every Monday a new workout is uploaded. Most of the MWH Method videos are 10 to 30 minutes long and combine low-impact Pilates and yoga movements. Don't be fooled by the "low-impact" wording -- that does not mean easy or low-effort. The subtle movements and prolonged repetition will have your muscles burning. She also occasionally mixes in dance movements as part of the warmups to get you in the mood for working out. In addition to the regular workouts, the program offers guided meditations, pre- and post-natal exercises and beginner workouts.    

Pros:

  • Workout library is highly organized
  • Inclusive routines for all body types and levels of experience
  • Short workouts that you can bundle to create your own routine

Cons:

  • No long-term program to follow
  • No tools for tracking progress
StrongHer

App Store rating4.7 out of 5

Google Play rating4.7 out of 5

StrongHer was created by Melissa Chalmers when she began a fitness journey for her wedding. As she started seeing results and the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle, she decided to share what she had learned with the rest of the world. This fitness and nutrition program aims to provide a personal trainer that you can take anywhere with you through an app. What I like about the app is that you get personal training and fully customizable nutrition plans tied to your goals. The nutrition plan is just that, a plan with meals you can create with the recipes they provide (no meals will be delivered to your home).

When you download the app, the first thing you'll do is set your objectives -- it could be to lose weight, tone your muscles or build muscle mass. Then you'll be asked about whether you'll be working out at home or at a gym and the type of workouts you enjoy most, followed by a series of questions about things like height, weight and lifestyle. 

You can customize your nutrition plan to your liking, choosing from a standard diet (no allergies or restrictions), keto or vegetarian. To all my fellow vegans, worry not. Even though there isn't an official vegan option, if you select the vegetarian option, you can exclude foods like honey, milk and eggs to make your plan vegan-friendly. Similarly to Weight Watchers, StrongHer has a point system for the foods in your nutrition plan. Every food is assigned a number of points based on its calories, fat and protein. The number of points you have in your daily budget will depend on your personalized nutrition plan. 

What sets this workout app apart from the rest is the ability to track your progress through time. For example, suppose you started with 5-pound weights for bicep curls, and in two months you are able to lift 10 pounds. If you document it in the app, it'll show you historical data about your physical activity progress, calorie intake and water intake.

As for the workouts, I found them to be fun and you can make them as challenging as you want. The app will not recommend the amount of weight to use; instead, you decide what feels right or challenging enough for you. There is a quick outline and a short video demonstration for each exercise in case the movement is new to you or you wish to have more guidance on your form.

Pros:

  • New workouts added to the library every week
  • Ability to track progress over time
  • Personalized meal plans

Cons:

  • Aggressive ads to upgrade membership
  • Users on the App Store have reported slow customer service response
Alo Moves

App Store rating4.9 out of 5

Google Play rating4.3 out of 5

Alo Moves is a yoga app from parent company Alo Yoga -- yes, the trendy brand responsible for getting us all hooked on the famous Alo Yoga Goddess Leggings. The app essentially connects you with yoga instructors through an extensive array of classes.

What I like most about this app is that it's not limited to only yoga classes. With your membership, you get access to four different workout categories: fitness (Barre, HIIT, Core, Pilates, Stretching and Stretch), yoga (ashtanga, vinyasa, kundalini, hatha, restorative and prenatal), mindfulness (breathwork, meditation, personal growth and sound bath) and skills (focuses on inversions, mobility, poses and flexibility). 

As with many other fitness apps, you'll be asked several questions about your skill level, goals and preferred workout methods upon signing up for Alo Moves. This will narrow down the app's recommended classes for your specific goals. Most classes range from 20 to 60 minutes long and you can choose from over 70 instructors. Something I found particularly interesting about this app is how it suggests classes you should take based on your answers and classes you've taken. Think of it like how Netflix recommends watching certain shows or movies based on what you previously watched.

One thing that stands out from this app is the instructors' energy and how it varies from one class to another. Most of my instructors from the restorative yoga series had such a calming and soothing presence that I made taking a yoga class part of my morning routine. On the other hand, the teachers from the kundalini or vinyasa classes radiate so much energy that you finish the class ready to take on the day. It's safe to say that there is a class for every type of mood. I should point out that for the most part instructors will describe the poses, but others assume that you know the pose they call out. This might make classes challenging to follow for beginners. Taking classes with Alo Moves is comparable to taking a class in a studio, with the flexibility of going at your own pace.

Pros:

  • Class recommendations tailored to you
  • Extensive workout library

Cons:

  • More expensive than most workout subscription services
  • Beginners might not find the classes descriptive enough
Sweat

App Store rating4.6 out of 5

Google Play rating4.3 out of 5

The Sweat App was founded by Kayla Itsines, an Australian fitness guru who gained popularity on social media with her High Intensity with Kayla (formerly known as BBG) e-books back in 2015. Since then, the fitness program has evolved from digital book to fitness app, raking up over 1 million users every month.

It's not hard to see why this workout app is a fan favorite; it offers over 30 programs -- all designed to fit multiple workout preferences and achieve different results. Some of the most notable plans include at-home workouts, gym training plans, post-pregnancy programs and zero-equipment workouts. Even when you finish a program, there are so many other options to explore that it's doubtful you'll ever get bored with a routine. And like any other well-designed fitness app, Sweat strives to provide you with a personal trainer 24/7 right in the palm of your hand, along with a nutrition plan to help you reach your goals.

Before beginning your workout, you can set up your playlist (through Spotify or Apple Music) and select the equipment you have available. Based on your equipment selection, the app will recommend a routine that you can follow. I found this particularly helpful since most workout apps have fixed routines, and often you don't have the right equipment to complete them. Every exercise is paired with a video and description if you're unsure how to execute specific movements.  

I think this app is best for experienced trainers because of how challenging the PWR program is. PWR focuses on muscle growth and body strength through hypertrophy, which is essentially an increase in muscle size that is achieved through progressive weight lifting. The workouts range from 45 to 60 minutes long and are meant to be performed in a gym. If you're into strength training but don't have access to a gym, you can opt for the PWR At Home program. 

The nutrition plan is pretty on par with what other workout apps offer. It plans out your meals for the week and has recipes that you can follow to create at home. Sweat takes the planning out of your workouts and nutrition. Overall, the app is straightforward and really user-friendly. 

Pros:

  • Spotify and Apple music integrated into the app
  • Ability to customize your weekly workout plan
  • Each exercise has an alternative exercise if the one suggested is too challenging

Cons:

  • Pricier than other apps with similar features
  • Exercises are pretty repetitive throughout the workouts

Pros of using workout apps

Work out wherever you are

The great thing about fitness subscriptions is that you can access them anytime and anywhere. If you're traveling or stuck at home, and even if your gym is closed, you can whip out your phone and get a great workout done wherever you are.

Track progress

Most fitness apps collect data from previous workouts and provide a report on how much you've progressed over time. Whether you are looking to gain muscle, lose weight or build endurance, looking at your progress report will show you how far you've come.

Save money

All workout apps in this article cost between $10 and $20 per month -- that's likely cheaper than most fitness classes in a studio. You also get unlimited access to your workouts in the apps, so you can take as many classes or workouts as you want.

Cons of using workout apps

Requires a lot of self-motivation

Having an online coach that's available 24/7 may sound tempting, but if you need that extra motivation or accountability, you may want to consider a personal trainer to help you with your fitness goals, or joining forces with a workout buddy. With an online fitness subscription you'll get access to a ton of information and workouts, but it'll require a lot of discipline to complete the programs on your own.

No professional assistance

If you're new to any type of workout, it's essential to have someone correcting your form. Bad posture during exercise can lead to severe injuries. If you have experience exercising, this might not be an issue, but people beginning their fitness journey may find following classes and routines difficult if they don't know how to do the moves correctly.

The bottom line

There are a lot of exercise apps to choose from, and narrowing down the list can seem daunting. When selecting the best one for you, consider if it offers the necessary tools to help you reach your goals, such as weight loss, building muscle or simply becoming more active. Also, make sure that the app you choose offers multiple levels of expertise so that as you get fitter, you can challenge yourself and move on to the next level.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.